Twitter offers new challenge: 6-second videos

Twitter disproved skeptics of the 140-character tweet. Will it be able to turn a profit from six-second videos? Its new service, Vine, will try.

Twitter has something new to chirp about. The social networking site introduced Vine, a mobile service which lets Twitter users share videos. There’s only one catch: Twitter likes things short, so the videos are only six seconds long.

How long is six seconds? Not long enough to type the first line of this story. (I tried to upload a Vine video as an example, but it hasn't worked.)

Brevity is part of the reason Twitter has had doubters since it started in 2006. Ben Schachter, a senior internet analyst with Macquarie, says that’s due to a combination of factors.

“It’s the fact that it’s mostly mobile, it’s the fact that it’s just 140 characters of text,” he says.

As well as the fact that Twitter is a social media platform, which, especially on mobile devices, is still a largely unproven business model.

But some Twitter cynics turned into believers after 200 million people started tweeting. Ron Goodstein, who teaches marketing at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, says the forced creativity and boiled down nature of a 140 character limit that have helped make Twitter a success with users.

“There’s no time for BS because there’s no space for that,”  he says.

But there’s plenty of room in the Twittersphere for ads:  at the top of your feed, in your searches and on your sidebar. So as we follow the tweets of celebrities like Justin Bieber or cat videos or tennis scores, advertisers can promote related products to us. That, says Goodstein, makes Twitter attractive to them.

Twitter’s new video service Vine means more content, and that could mean more ads and more money. And Goodstein says if Twitter keeps its ads as short as its videos, that’s a plus.

Who wouldn’t rather see a six-second commercial instead of the longer version?


Want a 6-second peek into the Marketplace studio? Here's Kai Ryssdal during the show.

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

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